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Housing

Homeless outreach group given permanent support hub to offer hot meals, showers and health checks

Streets Kitchen’s new base provided by the council will offer more than 400 hot meals a week, as well as homelessness prevention advice, rehab support and sexual health screenings.

A homelessness outreach group has opened the doors of a new permanent space to provide hot meals, showers and clean clothes to people on the streets of north London. 

Streets Kitchen began providing outreach services for the homeless population five years ago. Now, thanks to support from Islington Council, the group has its own permanent ‘Solidarity Hub’ in Seven Sisters Road complete with a commercial kitchen so it can dish out 400 meals a week.

To mark the event, a launch was held on Wednesday attended by volunteers, local MP Jeremy Corbyn, Islington councillors and many of the people it will support.

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Streets Kitchen says it provides ‘solidarity not charity’ to people experiencing homelessness and provides support to those who may not engage with more formal services.

The group had previously used the space temporarily, but had since moved out and was without a base when the offer came to move back in.

“We invited Street’s Kitchen to use this space temporarily about four years ago when there was a real hike in homelessness and it was fantastic,” Finsbury Park’s Cllr Asima Shaikh told The Big Issue. 

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“Straight away we could see the positive effects that it had on the whole area. We are tremendously excited and proud of the support services that are going to be put here, which are really going to target the needs of homeless people.”

The new space, which is located on the ground floor of a fully refurbished council property, has been equipped with a new commercial kitchen ready to prepare more than 400 hot meals a week.

It will also offer hygiene services such as showers and sanitary products. Homelessness prevention guidance and healthcare, such as minor surgeries, drug and alcohol support and sexual health screenings, will also be available for those in need.

The two upper floors of the building will be used to house other community organisations, as part of the council’s “partnership-led approach to preventing homelessness”.

Streets Kitchen ribbon cutting with Islington’s Mayor Cllr Troy Gallagher, Image: Islington Media

The food prepared through Streets Kitchen is done so by volunteers, many of whom have experienced homelessness and used the service before themselves. 

“It [Streets Kitchen] shows what can be done in the voluntary sector in a sense of solidarity rather than charity, working together with local authorities,” Jeremy Corbyn told The Big Issue. 

“I stress that this is about solidarity in the same way as many people have got together through mutual aid groups during Covid. This is the same principle and I’m very pleased with it,” he said.

The aim of Streets Kitchen is to provide one central resource for those who find it challenging to engage with more formal support services. Working in a way which ‘unites people who want to help with those who need help,’ its core values stand for ‘solidarity not charity.’

“This is the start of a new chapter for us, and it’s great to be doing this in Islington because there is a great community here,” Jon Glackin, the founder of Streets Kitchen said. “Through partnership, with the council and local organisations – and by treating people with a little bit of dignity and respect – we can make change.”

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Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Islington Council’s deputy leader and housing chief, said: “We stand with our communities to ensure they feel safe and inclusive, which is why our partnership with Streets Kitchen is so valuable.

“They have a fantastic record of supporting homeless people, by providing them with warm meals, hygiene facilities, and by linking them with other services that can help them into a permanent home.

“We’re delighted to have been able to support Streets Kitchen by providing them with space for a new hub here in Islington, and we look forward to seeing the benefits that this new space will bring to the homeless community.”

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